Skip to main content
Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Exploring UDL Principles

There are three UDL principles which further expand into detailed guidelines. Conveniently, there are three guidelines under each principle. These are explored on this page.

Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Learners have different strengths, preferences, and needs when it comes to expressing themselves. Multiple means of action and expression refers to the variety of options that learners have for demonstrating their knowledge and skills. By offering learners a variety of ways to showcase their understanding of a concept or skill, educators can promote creativity, increase motivation, and reduce barriers to learning. 

The principles of multiple means of action and expression within UDL involve providing learners with a range of options to express their understanding of a concept or skill. This approach recognizes that there are many ways to demonstrate mastery of a concept or skill beyond traditional assessments like written exams or essays.

  • Provide Options for Physical Action
    Provide learners with various ways to navigate digital content and offer opportunities for hands-on learning. This approach recognizes that some learners may struggle with traditional methods of accessing digital content and may benefit from alternative ways to interact with the material.
  • Provide Options for Expression and Communication
    Provide learners with multiple modes of communication, including visual, audio, and written forms. This approach recognizes that learners may have different preferences for how they receive information, and offering multiple modes of communication can help ensure that all learners can access the material in a way that suits their learning style.
  • Provide Options for Executive Functions
    Provide learners with organization tools, time management strategies, and self-regulation techniques. This approach recognizes that learners may struggle with managing their time or staying organized, and offering support in these areas can help reduce barriers to learning and promote academic success.

Multiple Means of Engagement

Learners differ in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn. Affect is a crucial element of learning and refers to the underlying experience of feeling, emotion, or mood. Individual variation in affect can be due to various factors, including neurology, culture, background, and personal relevance. Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty, while others are disengaged by those same aspects.

  • Provide Options for Recruiting Interest

    Information that does not engage learners’ cognition is, in fact, inaccessible. Learners differ in what attracts their attention and engages their interest. Even the same learner will differ over time and circumstance.

    • Provide learners with as much discretion and autonomy as possible by offering choices. For example, tools used in an assessment, time for task completion, topics, etc.
    • Involve learners in the design of class activities and assessments. For example, ask them to submit ideas via a Google Form or Mentimeter survey.
    • Vary activities and information sources so that they are appropriate for diverse learners as well as culturally and socially relevant. For example, design a survey to get to know learners at the beginning of the term, and use that information to inform. 
    Vary the levels of social demands, novelty, and sensory stimulation. For example, provide students the option to ask questions or participate in class anonymously through Mentimeter. 
  • Provide Options for Sustaining Effort and Persistence

    When motivated to do so, many learners can regulate their attention and affect in order to sustain the effort and concentration that such learning will require. However, learners differ considerably in their ability to self-regulate in this way.

    • Emphasize process, effort, and improvement in meeting standards as alternatives to external evaluation and competition.
    • Foster collaboration and community in the classroom. For example, provide opportunities for group work and peer evaluation, but make sure you share clear expectations and rubrics.
    • Provide mastery-oriented feedback.
  • Provide Options for Self Regulation

    The ability to self-regulate—to strategically modulate one’s emotional reactions or states in order to be more effective at coping and engaging with the environment—is a critical aspect of human development. Support learners by providing opportunities to develop self-regulatory skills.

    • Promote expectations that optimize motivation.
    • Help students reframe their perspectives. For example, “how can I improve on the areas I am struggling with?” as opposed to “I am not good at math”.
    • Incorporate self-assessment and reflection opportunities throughout the course. For example, get students to stop and think about their learning during class or ask students to submit an exit ticket at the end of class, using Google Forms, to reflect on what they learned.

Multiple Means of Representation

Learners differ in the ways they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. There is no one way of presenting information that will be optimal for all learners. Therefore, educators should use different methods to present ideas, concepts and information. 

Multiple means of representation is concerned with how information is presented so that every learner can transfer it into usable knowledge. This principle seeks to maximize the learners’ ability to perceive, decode and comprehend content. Here are some practical considerations for applying the guidelines within this principle.

  • Provide Options for Perception

    This guideline is closely connected to accessibility. Learning is impossible if information is imperceptible to learners, or if the information is presented in formats that require extraordinary effort or assistance. How can this be applied practically?

    • Create flexible content that does not depend on a single sense (i.e. sight, hearing, touch, movement). Instead, provide the same information through different modalities. For example, offering alternatives for audio-visual information in the form of transcripts or closed captions. 
    • Provide information in formats that will allow for adjustability by the learner. For example, text that can be enlarged, or sounds that can be reduced or amplified. Providing such options empowers learners to make choices for themselves to best meet their needs.
  • Provide Options for Language and Symbols

    Learning barriers are created when information is presented without considerations for variability in the way language and symbols are understood. This is especially important in learning contexts where there is cultural diversity. For example, a class with many international students. Vocabulary that sharpen and clarify concepts for one learner may be confusing and foreign to another. Additionally, signs, images, and/or symbols that may carry one meaning for a group of learners may carry very different meanings for learners from differing cultural or familial backgrounds. Here are some actionable steps related to this guideline.

    • Communicate through languages that create a shared understanding. Avoid jargons or slangs that are culturally restrictive, and if used, provide explanations.
    • When conducting a lesson, workshop or presentation, it might be useful to start by building the learners’ vocabulary in the specific context of the learning. For example, provide a glossary or slide with explanations of common terms.
    • Provide alternative text descriptions (alt text) when graphics, symbols or images are used. 
    • Illustrate using multimedia. For example: images, videos, simulations, graphics, etc. Multimedia helps to frame meaning and make learning come alive. Additionally, multimedia content enhances accessibility and helps support resourceful knowledgeable learners. 
  • Provide Options for Comprehension

    The purpose of teaching and learning is not to make information accessible, but rather to support learners to transform accessible information into usable knowledge. In providing options for construction of meaning and comprehension, educators can:

    • Activate or supply background knowledge by building connections to previous educational and lived experiences. 
    • Facilitate learner check-in using rubrics, quizzes or other self-reflection tools. This helps learners identify gaps in their learning, thus enabling active learning.
    • Support the process of “meaning-making” through models, scaffolds, examples and feedback. This helps to guide information processing and visualization. Proper learning design should provide the scaffolds necessary to aid comprehension.